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Now That Obama's Signed It, Let's Reform the Reform
By John Nichols | The Nation
The Nation editorial urging Congress to support President Obama's health-care reform legislation recognized that the measure was flawed. But it argued that there were practical and political reasons for supporting it.
The core point was that passing the bill needed to be seen as part of a process, not as a finished product.
As such, the editorial closed with the lines:
For all these reasons, we support passage of the bill, even as we urge the progressive community to begin the struggle immediately to correct its many flaws and improve its protections. Some of this can be done quickly, via the reconciliation process. Some of it can and should be done with new legislation, such as robust public option bills by Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Alan Grayson and proposals to expand Medicare and eliminate the health insurance industry's anti-trust exemption.
If this crucial second step is taken quickly and boldly, progressives will have an agenda and an argument for maintaining the pressure through this year's election cycle and in the years to come--when the crucial details of the reform will be implemented. Are we prepared to carry on a knock-down, drag-out fight with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries? The opposition is formidable, but there is a base for mobilization in both houses of Congress. Ultimately, our message must be that genuine reform begins, and only begins, with passage of the current legislation. It ends with achievement of the goal that should be our new battle cry: Medicare for All. Read more.
In light of Sunday night's historic U.S. House of Representatives 219-212 "yes" vote on HR 3590 (and likely passage of the same in the U.S. Senate later this week) the legislative work of Healthcare for All Pennsylvania is even more crucial, more time-sensitive, and more opportune than ever.
First, there is something truly, politically remarkable when a majority of any U.S. Congress can agree on any set of reforms regarding a topic as big as healthcare economics and healthcare delivery. Underscoring the political achievement is the fact that we are in a mid-term election year, and funding of such elections is akin to the “Wild West.” Just a week ago, passage of this healthcare legislation appeared 50-50, at best. Two months ago, many were writing its obituary.
So, politically, HR 3590 is a feat; policy-wise, HR 3590 is rife with opportunities, challenges, and complications.
Ten states plan to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care reform bill, Florida's attorney general announced Monday.
Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general under fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, told a news conference that the lawsuit - joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Washington state, North Dakota and South Dakota - would be filed once President Barack Obama signs the health care bill into law. Read more.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s decision to vote “yes” in Sunday’s House action on the health care bill, although he had sworn to oppose the legislation unless there was a public option, is a perfect example of why I would never be a politician. I respect Kucinich. As politicians go, he is about as good as they get, but he is still a politician. He has to run for office. He has to raise money. He has to placate the Democratic machine or risk retaliation and defeat. And so he signed on to a bill that will do nothing to ameliorate the suffering of many Americans, will force tens of millions of people to fork over a lot of money for a defective product and, in the end, will add to the ranks of our uninsured.
The claims made by the proponents of the bill are the usual deceptive corporate advertising. The bill will not expand coverage to 30 million uninsured, especially since government subsidies will not take effect until 2014. Families who cannot pay the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be between 15 and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default, increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can unilaterally raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize local markets to shut out competitors. The $1.055 trillion spent over the next decade will add new layers of bureaucratic red tape to what is an unmanageable and ultimately unsustainable system.
The mendacity of the Democratic leadership in the face of this reality is staggering. Howard Dean, who is a doctor, said recently: “This is a vote about one thing: Are you for the insurance companies or are you for the American people?” Here is a man who once championed the public option and now has sold his soul. What is the point in supporting him or any of the other Democrats? How much more craven can they get?
Take a look at the health care debacle in Massachusetts, a model for what we will get nationwide. One in six people there who have the mandated insurance say they cannot afford care, and tens of thousands of people have been evicted from the state program because of budget cuts. The 45,000 Americans who die each year because they cannot afford coverage will not be saved under the federal legislation. Half of all personal bankruptcies will still be caused by an inability to pay astronomical medical bills. The only good news is that health care stocks and bonuses for the heads of these corporations are shooting upward. Chalk this up as yet another victory for our feudal overlords and a defeat for the serfs.
The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care—$7,129 per capita—although 45.7 million Americans remain without health coverage and millions more are inadequately covered, meaning that if they get seriously ill they are not covered. Fourteen thousand Americans a day are now losing their health coverage. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume 31 cents of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough, Physicians for a National Health Plan points out, to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans. Check out www.healthcare-now.org. It has some of the best analysis. Read more.
Michael Moore: The Great Thing About the Health Care Law That Has Passed? It Will Save Republican Lives, Too
To My Fellow Citizens, the Republicans:
Thanks to last night's vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.
Thanks to last night's vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.
Thanks to last night's vote, after your cancer returns for the third time -- racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive -- your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.
Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we've made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you're upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you.
But the reality is that these health insurance companies have only one mission: To take as much money from you as they can -- and then work like demons to deny you whatever coverage and help they can should you get sick.
So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you'll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening. Read more.
The Republicans look a sour lot this morning, but the pharmaceutical industry appears more than content with the health care legislation passed by the House, and with its Democratic friends in the White House and on the Hill.
Big Pharma helps foot the campaign bills of a sizeable chunk of members of Congress, and both parties generally lined up behind the insurance and drug industries from the get-go. So it should come as no surprise that the Democrats, who long ago gave up any pretence of opposing corporate power, found a way to accomodate the pharmaceutical companies on the way to passing their tepid reform. To a large extent, the "debate" over health care was a show debate, an extended round of Washington smoke and mirrors. The administration cut its deal with Big Pharma early on, and pretty much stuck to it throughout the process.
In fact, the Dems actually made the drugsters look good, celebr ating the industry's generous "concessions" and "discounts" while ensuring that no real threat to Big Pharma’s profits would make their way into the final bill. The industry's main goal from the very beginning has been to fend off any government power to negotiate or seriously regulate drug prices—and this they did. Big Pharma's second big win was to prevent any measure that would have opened the way for American consumers to buy less expensive drugs abroad, especially from Canada.
At the same time, the supposed give-backs by the drug industry are projected to more than pay for themselves. The much-lauded discounts on brand-name drugs for seniors in the Medicare prescription drug program, for example, are good for Big Pharma because they discourage oldsters from switching to generics, or giving up meds they can't afford. (And just to be safe, the drug companies jacked up prices on their bestselling brand-name drugs this year.) Finally, more insured people simply means more money coming into the coffers, for Big Pharma as well as for the health insurance industry. Read more.
Pro-single-payer doctors: Health bill leaves 23 million uninsured | Press Release
A false promise of reform
The following statement was released today by leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, www.pnhp.org. Their signatures appear below.
As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House's passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.
Instead of eliminating the root of the problem - the profit-driven, private health insurance industry - this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.
The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:
By Jane Hamsher, FireDogLake
The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we've been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.
We've also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.
Real health care reform is the thing we've fought for from the start. It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps them.
Ideologically it believes governments must provide for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It opposes concentrated wealth, demagogy, and despotism, and supports democracy, human and civil rights, and social justice - an ideology the 19th century People's Party and 20th century Progressive Party endorsed without majorities.
Until recently, faint echoes remained, sadly silenced after Senator Bernie Sanders and sole House populist capitulated.
Former Kucinich for president consultant, David Swanson, said "he gave in to the power of a false narrative, and that he ought to have said so....I think the corporate media has instilled in people the idea that presidents should make laws and the current president is trying to make a law that can reasonably be called 'healthcare reform' or at least 'health insurance reform.' " I don't excuse Kucinich flipping....I just want to find the right explanation for it."
Ben Smith writes that if the health care bill passes with “unified, if grumbly, support on the left, it would seem to vindicate the White House’s fundamental approach, which was to take the left for granted as much as possible and focus on courting marginal members of the Senate.”
He’s absolutely right. As I told Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal the other day (which he didn’t print), “f#%king r$%ards” worked.
Nobody will take progressives in congress seriously, nor should they. Their threats are idle and they won’t fight for anything they believe in. In the end, they’ll just take turns shaking their fists in futility and alternately sucking so no serious liberal challenge ever emerges to anything. Read more.
Back From Iraq, Injured War-Zone Workers Fight Insurance Giant AIG, Face Financial Ruin Civilian Contractors Accuse Insurer of Continuing To 'Delay and Deny' Claims
By Avni Patel | ABC News
Civilian contractors who were injured or wounded while supporting American troops in Iraq continue to face long battles with insurance giant AIG for payment of their disability claims, despite Congressional inquiries and calls to reform the system that has handled tens of thousands of disability claims from employees of overseas contractors.
The injured workers, including some wounded by small-arms fire or IEDs during insurgent attacks, complain that AIG has continued to "delay and deny" their claims nearly a year after a joint investigation by ABC News, ProPublica, and the Los Angeles Times first exposed serious problems with AIG's handling of disability claims under a government-funded insurance system. An analysis found that AIG challenged nearly half of the claims involving the most serious injuries.
"They will spend whatever it takes, or do whatever it takes, to berate, belittle and humiliate us," said Bill Carlisle, an injured Arkansas man who drove trucks in Iraq for nearly two years. Read more.
Health care reform -- here's where we are. The House of Representatives is about to vote on a Senate bill without a public option. It looks like the reconciliation amendment will not have a public option. The House bill had a public option, but once the House passes the Senate bill, that's history.
Which is why I introduced H.R. 4789, the Public Option Act. This simple four-page bill lets any American buy into Medicare at cost. You want it, you pay for it, you're in. It adds nothing to the deficit; you pay what it costs. Read more.
Point #1: According to a Harvard study, 45,000 Americans die every year because they don’t have insurance and can’t get access to health care.
Point #2: There’s around a gallon of blood in the human body. The blood of 45,000 people would fill a swimming pool 20 feet by 30 feet in size to a depth of about 7 feet, which is pretty gross.
Point #3: They approach politics with a bit more visual flair in Thailand.
Congressional Budget Office Releases Cost/Savings Estimates of Senate Health Care Bill
UPDATE: The CBO score is here.
FULL TEXT OF THE BILL HERE: 111_hr4872_amndsub
CBO has just released an estimate of the budgetary effects of the health bill, H.R. 3590, that passed the Senate on December 24. Today’s estimate differs from the estimate for a slightly earlier version of the legislation that we released on December 19 in that it encompasses all of the amendments that were adopted by the Senate, reflects a revised assumption about its enactment date, and incorporates some technical revisions. Like the December 19 estimate, this estimate is based on CBO’s baseline projections from March 2009. We and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) prepared this updated estimate in preparation for further consideration of health care legislation. However, the changes we have made do not result in an estimate that differs substantially from the earlier one.
CBO and JCT now estimate that, on balance, the direct (mandatory) spending and revenue effects of enacting H.R. 3590 as passed by the Senate would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $118 billion over the 2010–2019 period. (Direct spending—as distinguished from discretionary spending—is spending that stems from legislation other than appropriation acts.) In our earlier estimate, the budgetary impact was a net reduction in deficits of $132 billion. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2010) — All clinical trials have guidelines that clearly state who can and cannot participate, but according to the National Institutes of Health these guidelines are typically based on age, gender, previous treatment history, the type and stage of a disease, and other medically relevant factors. However, researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have gathered evidence indicating that some trials explicitly exclude individuals based on their sexual orientation. Their findings are published in a research letter appearing in the March 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Each generation has had to take up the question of how to provide for the health of the people of our nation. And each generation has grappled with difficult questions of how to meet the needs of our people. I believe health care is a civil right. Each time as a nation we have reached to expand our basic rights, we have witnessed a slow and painful unfolding of a democratic pageant of striving, of resistance, of breakthroughs, of opposition, of unrelenting efforts and of eventual triumph.
I have spent my life struggling for the rights of working class people and for health care. I grew up understanding first hand what it meant for families who did not get access to needed care. I lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including in a couple of cars. I understand the connection between poverty and poor health care, the deeper meaning of what Native Americans have called “hole in the body, hole in the spirit”. I struggled with Crohn’s disease much of my adult life, to discover sixteen years ago a near-cure in alternative medicine and following a plant-based diet. I have learned with difficulty the benefits of taking charge personally of my own health care. On those few occasions when I have needed it, I have had access to the best allopathic practitioners. As a result I have received the blessings of vitality and high energy. Health and health care is personal for each one of us. As a former surgical technician I know that there are many people who dedicate their lives to helping others improve theirs. I also know their struggles with an insufficient health care system.
There are some who believe that health care is a privilege based on ability to pay. This is the model President Obama is dealing with, attempting to open up health care to another 30 million people, within the context of the for-profit insurance system. There are others who believe that health care is a basic right and ought to be provided through a not-for-profit plan. This is what I have tirelessly advocated.
Idaho challenges national health care proposal; more states may follow
From Dugald McConnell | CNN
Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to pass a law saying no thanks to part of President Obama's health care proposal.
The Idaho Health Care Freedom Act says in part, "every person within the state of Idaho is and shall be free to choose or decline to choose any mode of securing health care services without penalty or threat of penalty."
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, said Wednesday he signed it because he believes any health care laws should ensure people are "treated as an individual, rather than as an amorphous mass whose only purpose in this world is to obey federal mandates."
Several other states may follow suit. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2010) — Living through the trauma of war seems to increase the risk of developing asthma, suggests research published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Those who are most traumatised are twice as likely to develop the condition as those who are least traumatised by their experiences of war, the research suggests.
The authors base their findings on a random sample of just over 2000 Kuwaiti civilians who endured the Iraqi invasion and seven month occupation of their country in 1990, and were aged between 50 and 69 at the time.
Walmart Fires Cancer Patient with Prescription for Medical Marijuana
Man Who Earned Associate of the Year Honors Fired by Employer Even Though Medical Marijuana Legal
By Tahman Bradley | ABC News
Even though Michigan resident Joseph Casias had a prescription from his doctor for medical marijuana, he was fired after a positive test for the substance by his employer, Walmart.
The news last November he'd been terminated was devastating for Casias, 29, who took great pride in his job, once earning the honor of Associate of the Year.
"It hurts. It hurts because I care. I care a lot about the store. I always wanted to make sure I do well," he told ABC News.
Casias started taking the medicine last June to cope with pain from sinus cancer and a brain tumor. He says the rare form of cancer causes him pain constantly and he almost died when he was first diagnosed.
Casias sprained his knee at work last November and underwent the routine drug test that follows all workplace injuries. Questioned about his positive test, Casias told management about his condition and presented a state card authorizing his marijuana use for medical purposes, but he was fired anyway. Casias says management told him Walmart does not honor medical marijuana cards. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2010)— Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine are presenting more than 20 ground-breaking studies at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 59th annual scientific session (ACC.10) in Atlanta. Their research includes data showing that the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse has caused potentially dangerous heart problems in responders on-site.
What did they threaten or promise? He got nothing improved in the bill. No explanation. Just a desire to be compassionate . . . toward the president. In Q and A Kucinich defends legitimacy of president against birthers/teabaggers. He expresses concern for the "potential of Obama's presidency." What about the potential of the first branch of our government? What did they threaten or promise?
It was amazing. Every story on the front page of Monday's New York Times
told the story of the Age of Greed during which a system known as capitalism
is slowly, but surely, killing us:
Insurance company greed: "Millions Spent to Sway Democrats on Health Care"
War profiteers: "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants"
There's no profit in repairing our infrastructure: "Repair Costs Daunting as
Water Lines Crumble"
China, the bank: "China Uses Rules on Global Trade to Its Advantage"
You mean NAFTA didn't improve life in Mexico: "Two Drug Slayings in Mexico
Rock US Consulate"
What happens when Big Food profits from hurting kids: "Forget Goofing
Around: Recess Has New Boss"
There's now a daily parade of news like this -- well, not really "news,"
more like the media division of large corporations shoving your face into
the dirt that is your life. You already know the schools are a disaster and